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The Ultimate Post- No Hiding, No Crying, Just Answers

Reader comment on item: How the West Could Lose

Submitted by moderate Muslim (United States), Mar 8, 2007 at 22:13

I would like to point out the inherently flawed logic of two posters, known as Susan and dhimmi no more.

These two have called for a "moderate muslim" voice for some time before I started posting.

I appeared, "crashed their party", or rather, "crashed the beheading of Michel", and they responded, saying that there are no moderate Muslims, and with dhimmi making personal attacks on my race.

I am not upset by this, as dhimmi does not know me personally, and he is merely trying to bait me.

I have been called on by some more respectable (slightly) people, like Noah Wilk, to answer his questions and I did not answer them to the extent he wished, and so he branded me as running and hiding. I regret not answering everyone in depth, but I doubt it would have changed much. The people here will not change their minds, they shape the facts to suit their rhetoric. And while I do not think that is fiar, I am not going to complain, I am going to address them, and each of their grievances.

I will answer some of the main points

-The Qurayza Jews

The desicion to execute the men of Qurayza was made by an Arab man, not the Prophet (pbuh). The Qurayza men had plotted against their supposed allies, the muslims, thus violating their treaty. Regarding the wife of the Prophet, she accepted to marry him, and he did so as a gesture of good will to the people, not as a man taking property.

-Aisha

Aisha was already a women by the time the marriage to the Prophet occured. In those times it was customary to be engaged very early, as people matured much quicker. The Prophet did in no way, I can't even say it, commit any crime against her, she was an adult in the definition of the time. I have read many scholarly reports, and they all say this.

-Violence (supposed) in the Quran

The ayat sent by various posters, such as Noah Wilk, are all pertaining to attacking the non believer if he "transgresses" upon you, this in no way condones violence. This merely states than one must fight against those who would destroy Islam. Islam also has VERY clear perimeters as to what is valid and not in warfare. Women, children, and even tree's are to be left alone, and may not be harmed during warfare. This indeed shows that acts of violence such as "car bombings" and "suicide bombings" are wrong and not sanctioned in the Quran for many reasons, one being the suicide involved, one being the civilians and infrastructure targeted. I strongly condemn these attacks also because I wept just as much as any one of you on 9/11.

-Jihad

Dhimmi and I can go round and round on Jihad. He will claim he is right, and that it is holy war, I will claim that he is wrong, and it means a struggle in general, like jihad an-nafs, or a struggle internally. I will, however post this.

Among most Westerners, the term "Jihad" ("struggle" in Arabic) often brings up images of Muslim terrorists killing people who disagree with them. Jihad is an emotionally charged word that is heralded by the Western news media in descriptions of Middle East activities. People need not wait long to hear the term used during nightly news and see the affects of present day Islamic struggles in vivid pictures of destruction beamed to our televisions. But is this a fair assessment of the Muslim community as a whole?
Jihad has been interpreted by Muslims in different ways.

The Muslim sect of the Kharijites has elevated Jihad to one of the Five Pillars of Islam -- making it Six Pillars. This kind of belief is seen in the extremist Muslim groups we call terrorists. They use the concept of Jihad as a justification for killing anyone who isn't a Muslim. However, most Muslims disagree with this extremist position of some Muslims and advocate peace. These Muslims view Jihad as a spiritual struggle against evil in a metaphorical sense.1
For the most part, there is the Greater and Lesser Jihad. The Greater Jihad is the internal spiritual struggle of the Muslim toward submission to Allah. The Lesser Jihad is Holy War against non-Muslims based on principle of belief. It is this latter that has caused the most concern among Westerners. Is that concern warranted? Many think so.

Islamic scholar Jamal Badawi, chairman of the Islamic Information Foundation in Halifax, insists that a jihad is `permitted only in self-defense or against tyranny and oppression--not as a tool to promote Islam." But, experts added, the ancient Islamic empires were built as much by force as by persuasion. Islam's founder, Mohammed, frequently used force, or the threat of it, to unify the nomadic tribes of the Arabian peninsula. The caliphs, who succeeded Mohammed as leaders of the Arab world, successfully took up arms against the Christian Byzantine Empire in Egypt and the Holy Land. By the end of the ninth century, Arabian armies had extended Islamic power from Spain to the borders of India.2

Anyone who has studied Islamic history must surely notice how frequently the Muslims were involved in battle after battle. Within 200 years after its inception, Islam had spread through a huge geographical area and many converts were made by the sword.

What does the Qur'an say about Jihad?

The Qur'an is the single most important authority in all of Islam. It is the scripture given from Allah through the angel Gabriel. Does the Qur'an teach Jihad? Absolutely yes. As you will see in the following quotes from the Qur'an, Holy War is definitely taught and encouraged.

  1. "Truly Allah loves those who fight in His Cause in battle array, as if they were a solid cemented structure," (Surah 61:4).

  2. "Fight in the cause of Allah those who fight you but do not transgress limits...191And slay them wherever ye catch them. and turn them out from where they have turned you out; for persecution is worse than slaughter; But fight them not at the sacred Mosque unless they (first) fight you there; But if they fight you, slay them. Such is the reward of those who reject faith. 192 But if they cease, Allah is oft-forgiving, Most Merciful. 193And fight them on until there is no more persecution. And the religion becomes Allah's. But if they cease, Let there be no hostility except to those who practice oppression" (The Qur'an, Surah 2:190-193).

  3. "O ye who believe! what is the matter with you, that, when ye are asked to go forth in the cause of Allah, ye cling heavily to the earth? Do ye prefer the life of this world to the Hereafter? But little is the comfort of this life, as compared with the Hereafter. Unless ye go forth, He will punish you with a grievous penalty, and put others in your place; but Him ye would not harm in the least. For Allah hath power over all things. Unless ye go forth, He will punish you with a grievous penalty, and put others in your place; but Him ye would not harm in the least. For Allah hath power over all things," (Surah 9:38-39).
  4. See also Surah 4:74-76; 61:10-12.

What does the Hadith say about Jihad?

The Hadith are the recorded sayings and deeds of the Prophet Muhammad. It is second in authority only to the Qur'an and is often used to clarify things not specified in the Qur'an. What did Muhammad say about Jihad as recorded in the Hadith?

  1. "The Prophet said, "The person who participates in (Holy battles) in Allah's cause and nothing compels him to do so except belief in Allah and His Apostles, will be recompensed by Allah either with a reward, or booty (if he survives) or will be admitted to Paradise (if he is killed in the battle as a martyr). Had I not found it difficult for my followers, then I would not remain behind any sariya going for Jihad and I would have loved to be martyred in Allah's cause and then made alive, and then martyred and then made alive, and then again martyred in His cause."Volume 1, Book 2, Number 35, Narrated Abu Huraira
  2. "Allah's Apostle said, "A pious slave gets a double reward." Abu Huraira added: By Him in Whose Hands my soul is but for Jihad (i.e. holy battles), Hajj, and my duty to serve my mother, I would have loved to die as a slave. Volume 3, Book 46, Number 724: Narrated Abu Huraira
  3. "Allah's Apostle said, "Allah guarantees (the person who carries out Jihad in His Cause and nothing compelled him to go out but Jihad in His Cause and the belief in His Word) that He will either admit him into Paradise (Martyrdom) or return him with reward or booty he has earned to his residence from where he went out." Volume 9, Book 93, Number 555: Narrated Abu Huraira.

Obviously Muhammad taught that Holy War was an acceptable and good thing to do. To clarify, he even stated that if a Muslim were to die in battle, fighting for the cause of Allah, that he would be guaranteed to go to Paradise.

Why is this important?

Why is understanding the Islamic position of Jihad important? Simple. People act according to their beliefs. If a large group of people believes that war against "unbelievers" is a holy thing, that it is a thing sanctioned from God, then those who are not Muslims should be concerned. Of course, at this point, most Muslims might accuse me of being sensationalistic and pointing to only a few extremists and out-of-context verses to make Islam look bad. First, let me say that by far the majority of Muslims I have encountered here in the United States have been polite and peace loving. Second, in other parts of the world, Jihad is taken to extremes not simply by terrorists, but by Islamic led governments.

  1. In Egypt, a Muslim country, Christians have been persecuted heavily for their faith and only recently are things beginning to change.3

  2. "Roman Catholic Bishop John Joseph of Pakistan shot himself to death on May 6 to highlight the case of Ayub Massih, a Christian sentenced to death for supposedly making blasphemous remarks against the Prophet Muhammad and thus against Islam. In a letter sent to a local newspaper just before his death, the bishop stated that he hoped his suicide would galvanize his fellow bishops and others to work for the repeal of sections 295 B and Cot the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC), which make any blasphemy against Islam a serious crime and blasphemy against Muhammad punishable by death."4

  3. "Farag Foda, an Egyptian intellectual who expressed scorn for the Islamist program, was shot and murdered. And Naguib Mahfouz, the elderly and much-celebrated Nobel Prize laureate for literature, was seriously injured in Cairo when an assailant knifed him in the neck, presumably in revenge for an allegorical novel written decades earlier."5

  4. "Hundreds of thousands of Muslims assembled in Jakarta and declared a holy war against Indonesian Christians shortly after dawn Friday to avenge the deaths of Muslims in religious clashes in the Maluku Islands (the Spice Islands). Assembled in central Jakarta, the Muslims shouted "Jihad (Holy War)! Jihad!" Most of those gathered wore white robes and white bandannas marked with quotes from the Koran about the "Holy War." It is time for us to do a jihad against Christians," said Husen al-Habsyi, a former political prisoner, who was jailed for masterminding an explosion in the Borobudur Buddhist Temple in the early 1980s.6

  5. This Christmas season, Pastor Rod Parsley is taking a lead in an effort to help free the tens of thousands of Sudanese women and children held in captivity in the Sudan, many of which are Christians. This great effort will help stem the horrific tide of genocide and enslavement of Christians in the African nation. Bridge of Hope, the missions outreach of Breakthrough is located in Columbus, Ohio...The Government of Sudan, a fundamentalist regime that represents only 10% of the population in Sudan, has declared a holy war (jihad) against Christians and animists in their own country. Since 1985, this reign of terror is responsible for the murder of over 2 million Sudanese ... and over 4 million have been displaced. The Government of Sudan will not stop short of total annihilation of all Christians and all others that do not believe in this totalitarian regime...During Government sponsored raids in peaceful villages, men are killed; village elders are hacked with machetes and left for dead; the village is burned and devastated; and women and children are captured as slaves. Slaves are subjected by their masters to systematic physical and psychological torture, including gang rape, beatings, death threats, genital mutilation and forcible conversion to Islam.7

Anyone can make any group look bad through selective quotes. Each religious group has elements of its history it wishes it could ignore. The Muslims could cite the Crusades or the Inquisition as examples of "Christian behavior." In response, the Crusades, right or wrong, were a retaliation against the Islamic Jihad that was sweeping through Europe. The Inquisition, on the other hand, is a perfect example of what happens when a religious group (the Roman Catholic Church) gets in power and tries to root out heretics and blasphemers. Islam is no different.
The Islamic run country of Pakistan (No. 9 above) has anti blasphemy laws where the punishment for speaking blasphemy against Muhammad and the Qur'an is death. Islamic run Sudan has already killed, and still is killing, millions of people, mainly Christians, in its own country in addition to making many of them slaves. (No. 12 above). It is these kinds of facts that cannot be ignored and should not be ignored. Muslim and Christian alike should be very concerned.
I do not know if other Muslim countries are condemning the actions of these Islamic nations that so easily violate human rights. I do not know if Muslims outside of those countries are even aware of the problems going on within their theologically diverse ranks of other nations. But, when a Holy Book like the Qur'an advocates Holy War, when the very sayings and deeds of their beloved Prophet Muhammad advocate Jihad, and when we see some Islamic nations killing non Muslims -- because they are not Muslims, how can we not be worried about what they would do if they had control of the world....as is their goal.
Here in the States, Muslims enjoy freedom of religion and expression. Such freedoms for Christians are basically non existent in many Islamic nations. Is that right?

____________________

  1. Sukhvinder Stubbs, The New Stateman, LTD, "The hooded hordes of prejudice: to typecast all Muslims as fanatical militants is unfair and offensive," Feb 28, 1997.

  2. James Deacon and Diane Brady, "The will to fight--and die," Maclean's, 2/11/91, Vol. 104 Issue 6, p 39.

  3. Saad Michael Saad, The Christian Century, "A Christian appeal to Islam. Treatment of Copts in Egypt," by Feb 23, 2000.

  4. Cris E. Toffolo, The Christian Century, "Christians in Pakistan confront charges of blasphemy," July 29, 1998.

  5. Daniel Pipes, The American Jewish Community, "How Dare You Defame Islam,". Nov, 1999.

  6. Asian Political News, Jan 10, 2000

  7. (PR Newswire, "Breakthrough Bridge of Hope Missions to Partner With Christian Solidarity International to Free Slaves in Sudan." Issue: Nov 30, 2000.

I would point out that a source is Daniel Pipes.

Continuing

-Islam and women

I believe that in many supposed "ISLAMIC" countries, women have little or no rights because of traditon dating back before Islam. While this changed with Islam, many people have reverted to their old ways of oppressing women. In most all cultures women have had few rights, and gained them, as in the West. I am appalled by the horridness of some laws in Saudi Arabia, or Taliban Afghanistan. Among these are the laws against driving, being alone in public, or being covered completely, and not having a choice in it. I believe these are not Islamic laws, they are merely a controlling mechanism used by an authoritarian dictatorial regime to subjugate the masses. This is from a paper by Jamal Badawi: a scholar

Family, society and ultimately the whole of mankind is treated by Islam on an ethical basis. Differentiation in sex is neither a credit nor a drawback for the sexes. Therefore, when we talk about status of woman in Islam it should not lead us to think that Islam has no specific guidelines, limitations, responsibilities and obligations for men. What makes one valuable and respectable in the eyes of Allah, the Creator of mankind and the universe, is neither one's prosperity, position, intelligence, physical strength nor beauty, but only one's Allah-consciousness and awareness (taqwa). However, since in the Western culture and in cultures influenced by it, there exists a disparity between men and women there is more need for stating Islam's position on important issues in a clear way.

Dr. Jamal Badawi's essay, The Status of Women in Islam, was originally published in our quarterly journal, Al-lttihad, Vol. 8, No. 2, Sha'ban 1391/Sept 1971. Since then it has been one of our most-demanded publications. We thank Br. Jamal for permitting us to reprint his essay. We hope it will clarify many of the misconceptions.

Anis Ahmad,
Director Dept. of Education and Training
MSA of U.S. and Canada
P.O. Box 38 Plainfield, IN 46168 USA

Jumada al Thani 1400 April 1980

I. INTRODUCTION

The status of women in society is neither a new issue nor is it a fully settled one.

The position of Islam on this issue has been among the subjects presented to the Western reader with the least objectivity.

This paper is intended to provide a brief and authentic exposition of what Islam stands for in this regard. The teachings of Islam are based essentially on the Qur'an (God's revelation) and Hadeeth (elaboration by Prophet Muhammad).

The Qur'an and the Hadeeth, properly and unbiasedly understood, provide the basic source of authentication for any position or view which is attributed to Islam.

The paper starts with a brief survey of the status of women in the pre-Islamic era. It then focuses on these major questions: What is the position of Islam regarding the status of woman in society? How similar or different is that position from "the spirit of the time," which was dominant when Islam was revealed? How would this compare with the "rights" which were finally gained by woman in recent decades?

II. HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVES

One major objective of this paper is to provide a fair evaluation of what Islam contributed (or failed to contribute) toward the restoration of woman's dignity and rights. In order to achieve this objective, it may be useful to review briefly how women were treated in general in previous civilizations and religions, especially those which preceded Islam (Pre-610 C.E.). Part of the information provided here, however, describes the status of woman as late as the nineteenth century, more than twelve centuries after Islam.

Women in Ancient Civilization

Describing the status of the Indian woman, Encyclopedia Britannica states:

In India, subjection was a cardinal principle. Day and night must women be held by their protectors in a state of dependence says Manu. The rule of inheritance was agnatic, that is descent traced through males to the exclusion of females.

In Hindu scriptures, the description of a good wife is as follows: "a woman whose mind, speech and body are kept in subjection, acquires high renown in this world, and, in the next, the same abode with her husband."

In Athens, women were not better off than either the Indian or the Roman women.

"Athenian women were always minors, subject to some male - to their father, to their brother, or to some of their male kin.

Her consent in marriage was not generally thought to be necessary and "she was obliged to submit to the wishes of her parents, and receive from them her husband and her lord, even though he were stranger to her."

A Roman wife was described by an historian as: "a babe, a minor, a ward, a person incapable of doing or acting anything according to her own individual taste, a person continually under the tutelage and guardianship of her husband."

In the Encyclopedia Britannica, we find a summary of the legal status of women in the Roman civilization:

In Roman Law a woman was even in historic times completely dependent. If married she and her property passed into the power of her husband . . . the wife was the purchased property of her husband, and like a slave acquired only for his benefit. A woman could not exercise any civil or public office . could not be a witness, surety, tutor, or curator; she could not adopt or be adopted, or make will or contract. Among the Scandinavian races women were:

under perpetual tutelage, whether married or unmarried. As late as the Code of Christian V, at the end of the 17th Century, it was enacted that if a woman married without the consent of her tutor he might have, if he wished, administration and usufruct of her goods during her life.

According to the English Common Law:

...all real property which a wife held at the time of a marriage became a possession of her husband. He was entitled to the rent from the land and to any profit which might be made from operating the estate during the joint life of the spouses. As time passed, the English courts devised means to forbid a husband's transferring real property without the consent of his wife, but he still retained the right to manage it and to receive the money which it produced. As to a wife's personal property, the husband's power was complete. He had the right to spend it as he saw fit.

Only by the late nineteenth Century did the situation start to improve. "By a series of acts starting with the Married women's Property Act in 1870, amended in 1882 and 1887, married women achieved the right to own property and to enter contracts on a par with spinsters, widows, and divorcees." As late as the Nineteenth Century an authority in ancient law, Sir Henry Maine, wrote: "No society which preserves any tincture of Christian institutions is likely to restore to married women the personal liberty conferred on them by the Middle Roman Law."

In his essay The Subjection of Women, John Stuart Mill wrote:

We are continually told that civilization and Christianity have restored to the woman her just rights. Meanwhile the wife is the actual bondservant of her husband; no less so, as far as the legal obligation goes, than slaves commonly so called.

Before moving on to the Qur'anic decrees concerning the status of woman, a few Biblical decrees may shed more light on the subject, thus providing a better basis for an impartial evaluation. In the Mosaic Law, the wife was betrothed. Explaining this concept, the Encyclopedia Biblica states: "To betroth a wife to oneself meant simply to acquire possession of her by payment of the purchase money; the betrothed is a girl for whom the purchase money has been paid." From the legal point of view, the consent of the girl was not necessary for the validation of her marriage. "The girl's consent is unnecessary and the need for it is nowhere suggested in the Law."

As to the right of divorce, we read in the Encyclopedia Biblica: "The woman being man's property, his right to divorce her follows as a matter of course." The right to divorce was held only by man. "In the Mosaic Law divorce was a privilege of the husband only .... "

The position of the Christian Church until recent centuries seems to have been influenced by both the Mosaic Law and by the streams of thought that were dominant in its contemporary cultures. In their book, Marriage East and West, David and Vera Mace wrote:

Let no one suppose, either, that our Christian heritage is free of such slighting judgments. It would be hard to find anywhere a collection of more degrading references to the female sex than the early Church Fathers provide. Lecky, the famous historian, speaks of (these fierce incentives which form so conspicuous and so grotesque a portion of the writing of the Fathers . . . woman was represented as the door of hell, as the mother of all human ills. She should be ashamed at the very thought that she is a woman. She should live in continual penance on account of the curses she has brought upon the world. She should be ashamed of her dress, for it is the memorial of her fall. She should be especially ashamed of her beauty, for it is the most potent instrument of the devil). One of the most scathing of these attacks on woman is that of Tertullian: Do you know that you are each an Eve? The sentence of God on this sex of yours lives in this age: the guilt must of necessity live too. You are the devil's gateway: you are the unsealer of that forbidden tree; you are the first deserters of the divine law; you are she who persuades him whom the devil was not valiant enough to attack. You destroyed so easily God's image, man. On account of your desert - that is death - even the Sop of God had to die). Not only did the church affirm the inferior status of woman, it deprived her of legal rights she had previously enjoyed.

III. WOMAN IN ISLAM

In the midst of the darkness that engulfed the world, the divine revelation echoed in the wide desert of Arabia with a fresh, noble, and universal message to humanity: "O Mankind, keep your duty to your Lord who created you from a single soul and from it created its mate (of same kind) and from them twain has spread a multitude of men and women" (Qur'an 4: 1).

A scholar who pondered about this verse states: "It is believed that there is no text, old or new, that deals with the humanity of the woman from all aspects with such amazing brevity, eloquence, depth, and originality as this divine decree."

Stressing this noble and natural conception, them Qur'an states:

He (God) it is who did create you from a single soul and therefrom did create his mate, that he might dwell with her (in love)...(Qur'an 7:189)

The Creator of heavens and earth: He has made for you pairs from among yourselves ...Qur'an 42:1 1

And Allah has given you mates of your own nature, and has given you from your mates, children and grandchildren, and has made provision of good things for you. Is it then in vanity that they believe and in the grace of God that they disbelieve? Qur'an 16:72

The rest of this paper outlines the position of Islam regarding the status of woman in society from its various aspects - spiritually, socially, economically and politically.

1. The Spiritual Aspect

The Qur'an provides clear-cut evidence that woman iscompletely equated with man in the sight of God interms of her rights and responsibilities. The Qur'an states:

"Every soul will be (held) in pledge for its deeds" (Qur'an 74:38). It also states:

...So their Lord accepted their prayers, (saying): I will not suffer to be lost the work of any of you whether male or female. You proceed one from another ...(Qur'an 3: 195).

Whoever works righteousness, man or woman, and has faith, verily to him will We give a new life that is good and pure, and We will bestow on such their reward according to the their actions. (Qur'an 16:97, see also 4:124).

Woman according to the Qur'an is not blamed for Adam's first mistake. Both were jointly wrong in their disobedience to God, both repented, and both were forgiven. (Qur'an 2:36, 7:20 - 24). In one verse in fact (20:121), Adam specifically, was blamed.

In terms of religious obligations, such as the Daily Prayers, Fasting, Poor-due, and Pilgrimage, woman is no different from man. In some cases indeed, woman has certain advantages over man. For example, the woman is exempted from the daily prayers and from fasting during her menstrual periods and forty days after childbirth. She is also exempted from fasting during her pregnancy and when she is nursing her baby if there is any threat to her health or her baby's. If the missed fasting is obligatory (during the month of Ramadan), she can make up for the missed days whenever she can. She does not have to make up for the prayers missed for any of the above reasons. Although women can and did go into the mosque during the days of the prophet and thereafter attendance et the Friday congregational prayers is optional for them while it is mandatory for men (on Friday).

This is clearly a tender touch of the Islamic teachings for they are considerate of the fact that a woman may be nursing her baby or caring for him, and thus may be unable to go out to the mosque at the time of the prayers. They also take into account the physiological and psychological changes associated with her natural female functions.

2. The Social Aspect

a) As a child and an adolescent

Despite the social acceptance of female infanticide among some Arabian tribes, the Qur'an forbade this custom, and considered it a crime like any other murder.

"And when the female (infant) buried alive - is questioned, for what crime she was killed." (Qur'an 81:8-9).

Criticizing the attitudes of such parents who reject their female children, the Qur'an states:

When news is brought to one of them, of (the Birth of) a female (child), his face darkens and he is filled with inward grief! With shame does he hide himself from his people because of the bad news he has had! Shall he retain her on (sufferance) and contempt, or bury her in the dust? Ah! What an evil (choice) they decide on? (Qur'an 16: 58-59).

Far from saving the girl's life so that she may later suffer injustice and inequality, Islam requires kind and just treatment for her. Among the sayings of Prophet Muhammad (P.) in this regard are the following:

Whosoever has a daughter and he does not bury her alive, does not insult her, and does not favor his son over her, God will enter him into Paradise. (Ibn Hanbal, No. 1957).

Whosoever supports two daughters till they mature, he and I will come in the day of judgment as this (and he pointed with his two fingers held together).

A similar Hadeeth deals in like manner with one who supports two sisters. (Ibn-Hanbal, No. 2104).

The right of females to seek knowledge is not different from that of males. Prophet Muhammad (P.) said:

"Seeking knowledge is mandatory for every Muslim". (AlBayhaqi). Muslim as used here including both males and females.

b) As a wife:

The Qur'an clearly indicates that marriage is sharing between the two halves of the society, and that its objectives, beside perpetuating human life, are emotional well-being and spiritual harmony. Its bases are love and mercy.

Among the most impressive verses in the Qur'an about marriage is the following.

"And among His signs is this: That He created mates for you from yourselves that you may find rest, peace of mind in them, and He ordained between you love and mercy. Lo, herein indeed are signs for people who reflect." (Qur'an 30:2 1).

According to Islamic Law, women cannot be forced to marry anyone without their consent.

Ibn Abbas reported that a girl came to the Messenger of God, Muhammad (P.), and she reported that her father had forced her to marry without her consent. The Messenger of God gave her the choice . . . (between accepting the marriage or invalidating it). (Ibn Hanbal No. 2469). In another version, the girl said: "Actually I accept this marriage but I wanted to let women know that parents have no right (to force a husband on them)" (Ibn Maja, No. 1873).

Besides all other provisions for her protection at the time of marriage, it was specifically decreed that woman has the full right to her Mahr, a marriage gift, which is presented to her by her husband and is included in the nuptial contract, and that such ownership does not transfer to her father or husband. The concept of Mahr in Islam is neither an actual or symbolic price for the woman, as was the case in certain cultures, but rather it is a gift symbolizing love and affection.

The rules for married life in Islam are clear and in harmony with upright human nature. In consideration of the physiological and psychological make-up of man and woman, both have equal rights and claims on one another, except for one responsibility, that of leadership. This is a matter which is natural in any collective life and which is consistent with the nature of man.

The Qur'an thus states:

"And they (women) have rights similar to those (of men) over them, and men are a degree above them." (Qur'an 2:228).

Such degree is Quiwama (maintenance and protection). This refers to that natural difference between the sexes which entitles the weaker sex to protection. It implies no superiority or advantage before the law. Yet, man's role of leadership in relation to his family does not mean the husband's dictatorship over his wife. Islam emphasizes the importance of taking counsel and mutual agreement in family decisions. The Qur'an gives us an example:

"...If they (husband wife) desire to wean the child by mutual consent and (after) consultation, there is no blame on them..." (Qur'an 2: 233).

Over and above her basic rights as a wife comes the right which is emphasized by the Qur'an and is strongly recommended by the Prophet (P); kind treatment and companionship.

The Qur'an states:

"...But consort with them in kindness, for if you hate them it may happen that you hate a thing wherein God has placed much good." (Qur'an 4: l9).

Prophet Muhammad. (P) said:

The best of you is the best to his family and I am the best among you to my family.

The most perfect believers are the best in conduct and best of you are those who are best to their wives. (Ibn-Hanbal, No. 7396)

Behold, many women came to Muhammad's wives complaining against their husbands (because they beat them) - - those (husbands) are not the best of you.

As the woman's right to decide about her marriage is recognized, so also her right to seek an end for an unsuccessful marriage is recognized. To provide for the stability of the family, however, and in order to protect it from hasty decisions under temporary emotional stress, certain steps and waiting periods should be observed by men and women seeking divorce. Considering the relatively more emotional nature of women, a good reason for asking for divorce should be brought before the judge. Like the man, however, the woman can divorce her husband with out resorting to the court, if the nuptial contract allows that.

More specifically, some aspects of Islamic Law concerning marriage and divorce are interesting and are worthy of separate treatment.

When the continuation of the marriage relationship is impossible for any reason, men are still taught to seek a gracious end for it.

The Qur'an states about such cases:

When you divorce women, and they reach their prescribed term, then retain them in kindness and retain them not for injury so that you transgress (the limits). (Qur'an 2:231). (See also Qur'an 2:229 and 33:49).

c) As a mother:

Islam considered kindness to parents next to the worship of God.

"And we have enjoined upon man (to be good) to his parents: His mother bears him in weakness upon weakness..." (Qur'an 31:14) (See also Qur'an 46:15, 29:8).

Moreover, the Qur'an has a special recommendation for the good treatment of mothers:

"Your Lord has decreed that you worship none save Him, and that you be kind to your parents. . ." (Qur'an 17:23).

A man came to Prophet Muhammad (P) asking:

O Messenger of God, who among the people is the most worthy of my good company? The Prophet (P) said, Your mother. The man said then who else: The Prophet (P) said, Your mother. The man asked, Then who else? Only then did the Prophet (P) say, Your father. (Al-Bukhari and Muslim).

A famous saying of The Prophet is "Paradise is at the feet of mothers." (In Al'Nisa'I, Ibn Majah, Ahmad).

"It is the generous (in character) who is good to women, and it is the wicked who insults them."

3. The Economic Aspect

Islam decreed a right of which woman was deprived both before Islam and after it (even as late as this century), the right of independent ownership. According to Islamic Law, woman's right to her money, real estate, or other properties is fully acknowledged. This right undergoes no change whether she is single or married. She retains her full rights to buy, sell, mortgage or lease any or all her properties. It is nowhere suggested in the Law that a woman is a minor simply because she is a female. It is also noteworthy that such right applies to her properties before marriage as well as to whatever she acquires thereafter.

With regard to the woman's right to seek employment it should be stated first that Islam regards her role in society as a mother and a wife as the most sacred and essential one. Neither maids nor baby-sitters can possibly take the mother's place as the educator of an upright, complex free, and carefully-reared children. Such a noble and vital role, which largely shapes the future of nations, cannot be regarded as "idleness".

However, there is no decree in Islam which forbids woman from seeking employment whenever there is a necessity for it, especially in positions which fit her nature and in which society needs her most. Examples of these professions are nursing, teaching (especially for children), and medicine. Moreover, there is no restriction on benefiting from woman's exceptional talent in any field. Even for the position of a judge, where there may be a tendency to doubt the woman's fitness for the post due to her more emotional nature, we find early Muslim scholars such as Abu-Hanifa and Al-Tabary holding there is nothing wrong with it. In addition, Islam restored to woman the right of inheritance, after she herself was an object of inheritance in some cultures. Her share is completely hers and no one can make any claim on it, including her father and her husband.

"Unto men (of the family) belongs a share of that which Parents and near kindred leave, and unto women a share of that which parents and near kindred leave, whether it be a little or much - a determinate share." ((Qur'an 4:7).

Her share in most cases is one-half the man's share, with no implication that she is worth half a man! It would seem grossly inconsistent after the overwhelming evidence of woman's equitable treatment in Islam, which was discussed in the preceding pages, to make such an inference. This variation in inheritance rights is only consistent with the variations in financial responsibilities of man and woman according to the Islamic Law. Man in Islam is fully responsible for the maintenance of his wife, his children, and in some cases of his needy relatives, especially the females. This responsibility is neither waived nor reduced because of his wife's wealth or because of her access to any personal income gained from work, rent, profit, or any other legal means.

Woman, on the other hand, is far more secure financially and is far less burdened with any claims on her possessions. Her possessions before marriage do not transfer to her husband and she even keeps her maiden name. She has no obligation to spend on her family out of such properties or out of her income after marriage. She is entitled to the "Mahr" which she takes from her husband at the time of marriage. If she is divorced, she may get an alimony from her ex-husband.

An examination of the inheritance law within the overall framework of the Islamic Law reveals not only justice but also an abundance of compassion for woman.

4. The Political Aspect

Any fair investigation of the teachings of Islam o~ into the history of the Islamic civilization will surely find a clear evidence of woman's equality with man in what we call today "political rights".

This includes the right of election as well as the nomination to political offices. It also includes woman's right to participate in public affairs. Both in the Qur'an and in Islamic history we find examples of women who participated in serious discussions and argued even with the Prophet (P) himself, (see Qur'an 58: 14 and 60: 10-12).

During the Caliphate of Omar Ibn al-Khattab, a woman argued with him in the mosque, proved her point, and caused him to declare in the presence of people: "A woman is right and Omar is wrong."

Although not mentioned in the Qur'an, one Hadeeth of the Prophet is interpreted to make woman ineligible for the position of head of state. The Hadeeth referred to is roughly translated: "A people will not prosper if they let a woman be their leader." This limitation, however, has nothing to do with the dignity of woman or with her rights. It is rather, related to the natural differences in the biological and psychological make-up of men and women.

According to Islam, the head of the state is no mere figurehead. He leads people in the prayers, especially on Fridays and festivities; he is continuously engaged in the process of decision-making pertaining to the security and well-being of his people. This demanding position, or any similar one, such as the Commander of the Army, is generally inconsistent with the physiological and psychological make-up of woman in general. It is a medical fact that during their monthly periods and during their pregnancies, women undergo various physiological and psychological changes. Such changes may occur during an emergency situation, thus affecting her decision, without considering the excessive strain which is produced. Moreover, some decisions require a maximum of rationality and a minimum of emotionality - a requirement which does not coincide with the instinctive nature of women.

Even in modern times, and in the most developed countries, it is rare to find a woman in the position of a head of state acting as more than a figurehead, a woman commander of the armed services, or even a proportionate number of women representatives in parliaments, or similar bodies. One can not possibly ascribe this to backwardness of various nations or to any constitutional limitation on woman's right to be in such a position as a head of state or as a member of the parliament. It is more logical to explain the present situation in terms of the natural and indisputable differences between man and woman, a difference which does not imply any "supremacy" of one over the other. The difference implies rather the "complementary" roles of both the sexes in life.

IV. CONCLUSION

The first part of this paper deals briefly with the position of various religions and cultures on the issue under investigation. Part of this exposition extends to cover the general trend as late as the nineteenth century, nearly 1300 years after the Qur'an set forth the Islamic teachings.

In the second part of the paper, the status of women in Islam is briefly discussed. Emphasis in this part is placed on the original and authentic sources of Islam. This represents the standard according to which degree of adherence of Muslims can be judged. It is also a fact that during the downward cycle of Islamic Civilization, such teachings were not strictly adhered to by many people who profess to be Muslims.

Such deviations were unfairly exaggerated by some writers, and the worst of this, were superficially taken to represent the teachings of "Islam" to the Western reader without taking the trouble to make any original and unbiased study of the authentic sources of these teachings.

Even with such deviations three facts are worth mentioning:

1. The history of Muslims is rich with women of great achievements in all walks of life from as early as the seventh century (B.C.)

2. It is impossible for anyone to justify any mistreatment of woman by any decree of rule embodied in the Islamic Law, nor could anyone dare to cancel, reduce, or distort the clear-cut legal rights of women given in Islamic Law.

3. Throughout history, the reputation, chastity and maternal role of Muslim women were objects of admiration by impartial observers.

It is also worthwhile to state that the status which women reached during the present era was not achieved due to the kindness of men or due to natural progress. It was rather achieved through a long struggle and sacrifice on woman's part and only when society needed her contribution and work, more especial!; during the two world wars, and due to the escalation of technological change.

In the case of Islam such compassionate and dignified status was decreed, not because it reflects the environment of the seventh century, nor under the threat or pressure of women and their organizations, but rather because of its intrinsic truthfulness.

If this indicates anything, it would demonstrate the divine origin of the Qur'an and the truthfulness of the message of Islam, which, unlike human philosophies and ideologies, was far from proceeding from its human environment, a message which established such humane principles as neither grew obsolete during the course of time and after these many centuries, nor can become obsolete in the future. After all, this is the message of the All-Wise and all-knowing God whose wisdom and knowledge are far beyond the ultimate in human thought and progress.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

The Holy, Qur'an: Translation of verses is heavily based on A. Yusuf Ali's translation, The Glorious Qur'an, text translation, and Commentary, The American Trust Publication, Plainfield, IN 46168, 1979.

Abd Al-Ati, Hammudah, Islam in Focus, The American Trust Publications, Plainfield, IN 46168, 1977.

Allen, E. A., History of Civilization, General Publishing House, Cincinnati, Ohio, 1889, Vol. 3.

Al Siba'i, Mustafa, Al-Alar'ah Baynal Fiqh Walqanoon (in Arabic), 2nd. ea., Al-Maktabah Al-Arabiah, Halab, Syria, 1966.

El-Khouli, Al-Bahiy, "Min Usus Kadiat Al-Mara'ah" (in Arabic), A 1- Waay A l-lslami, Ministry of Walcf, Kuwait, Vol.3 (No. 27), June 9, 1967, p.17.

Encyclopedia Americana (International Edition), American Corp., N.Y., 1969, Vol.29.

Encyclopedia Biblica (Rev.T.K.Cheynene and J.S.Black, editors), The Macmillan Co., London, England, 1902, Vol.3.

The Encyclopedia Britannica, (11 th ed.), University Press Cambridge, England, 191 1, Vol.28.

Encyclopedia Britannica, The Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc., Chicago, III., 1968, Vol.23.

Hadeeth. Most of the quoted Hadeeth were translated by the writer. They are quoted in various Arabic sources. Some of them, however, were translated directly from the original sources. Among the sources checked are Musnad Ahmad Ibn Hanbal Dar AlMa'aref, Cairo, U.A.R., 1950, and 1955, Vol.4 and 3,SunanIbnMajah, Dar Ihya'a Al-Kutub al-Arabiah, Cairo, U.A.R., 1952, Vol.l, Sunan al-Tirimidhi, Vol.3.

Mace, David and Vera, Marriage: East and West, Dolphin Books, Doubleday and Co., Inc., N.Y., 1960.

Continuing

-In America, Personally knowing Muslims

All studies suggest that people have a negative connotation associated with Muslims, and based on what has transpired over the last decade, I can scarcely blame them. However, when one knows a Muslim, studies say, one is most likely to have a positive view of Muslims. If you have met a Muslim who is rather radical I am sorry, I and I cannot do anything exept tell you that most of us are not like that, we are peaceful people who integrate well into society. Most Muslim children I know go to public high schools, and are very good kids, not radical at all, but still retainging their Islamic identity. Due to unequal opportunity, Muslims immigrants in France and Britain have integrated much worse than their American counterparts. They encountered racism, and instead of confronting it, they prefered to live within their own circles. I think this is a bad thing, and that the next generation, if positively inspired, can change that and mainstream Islam in Great Britain and France. I am not an expert however on Islam in Britain or France.

-Terrorism

I condemn terrorism in all forms, and I will join the Muslim Ummah in asking all non Muslim to not identify us with the killers, we are not them, we do not help them, we want them to be brought to justice and that means a trial, and a punishment.

-Sharia

The concept that Sharia is radical is wrong. Sharia is correct and right. The "Sharia" propogated by extremists like the Taliban and the Saudi government is not actually Sharia, it is just called that. To not allow women to testify or to drive is not an Islamic traditon. It is however, wrong.

-The Sum of All Fears

The worst possible nightmare is a possbility of war between Islam and the West. While both of these characterizations are vague it remains a possibility, however unlikely, that this could occur. I would like to say that alienating and ostracizing Muslims in a very negative thing, and it would be the biggest cause of any war. If one kicked out all the Muslims from the West, it would just create more anger. There needs to be dialogue, and for their to be dialogue, their needs to be recognition of a middle ground. That means that their needs to be concessions. Dhimmi, Noah, and Susan, should accept that moderate Islam exists, and that it is in fact the only true Islam. I admit that people claiming to be Muslims perpetrate crimes every day against humanity, and that they needed to be stopped yesterday.

Please work for peace and understanding, not war and hate.

Thank you,

Moderate Muslim

Submitting....

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